Das Wundertheater. Wachsfigurenkabinett

Short operas by Hans Werner Henze and Karl Amadeus Hartmann


With the help of a completely imaginary stage show, a theater company messes around with a group of villagers. Only the ones who have been fathered in a Christian marriage can see the spectacle on stage, claims the director. So of course, no one wants to make a fool of his or herself… Hans Werner Henze, by setting to music an intermezzo of Miguel Cervantes, created an acid-tongued one-act play about truth and lies, manipulation of crowds and the treatment of scapegoats.

As well, Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s “Wachsfigurenkabinett” matches very well to that kind of black humour. The five opera miniatures caricature human fears, prejudices and doubtful values within Western societies such as the American Dream or unsteady moral visions. Concerning the music, the two intimate plays are connected by a preference for jazz and popular dance styles from the 1920s – as well as by Henze himself who, together with his colleagues, orchestrated Hartmann’s drafts. The Opernstudio NRW members create an extraordinarily entertaining show out of the two – or let’s better say: six – pieces.